Multimedia artist Claire Bangser created NOLAbeings as a portrait-based story project that marries image and text. Inspired by the Humans of NY project, it stems from the belief that we can all learn from one anothers' stories. Primarily featured on Instagram (and tumblr), Claire meets people in coffee shops, grocery stores, living rooms, sidewalks, and learns something about each individual through a snapshot conversation and image. After discovering and falling in love with the project, editors at NolaVie asked to post a weekly roundup of her most visually and narratively stimulating photos.
"He teaches me how to be nice to people. It could be the worst day for him and he’d still be smiling. He loves to be outside, he loves to be in the community, and he loves to gamble at Harrah’s."
“What’s his gambling strategy?”
“He don’t hit 16!”
"The saddest moment of my life was probably when my friend Jim Parker died. He was my mentor in graduate school - the funniest man I ever knew. He was one of those people I expected to grow old with. And then he had a stroke and fell down a flight of stairs and died. Oddly the same thing happened to my undergraduate advisor. So I think the last piece of advice I got from both of them was never to live in a two-story house."
“He just started laughing... it’s so much fun. My boyfriend and I will be playing with him and he’ll start to laugh and then my boyfriend and I will laugh and he’ll get scared. It’s like the sound is too much for him. And then he’ll start crying. It makes us laugh even more."
"It’s a day to day struggle feeling like there’s people that just don’t like you because of things that you like about yourself, that you feel are great. Like being an eccentric dresser, or whatever your sexual orientation is, or your gender preference. All of these things - I've just learned overtime about myself and learned that its okay to have these differentiations from other people. And that it’s beautiful to have them! Recently we got shot at leaving the house one night. I tried to make sense of it in my head, but there’s just haters out there."
“I’m really proud that I made my own cosplay - which is the art of dressing up as non-existent characters. My first cosplay was one of the great known Japanese cosplays called Naruto and I gender bended it. He was a really cool male character that I flipped and turned into a female character. Cosplay is a form of expression so that we can bring out our inner creativity. People admire you and they ask you for pictures so it’s pretty awesome."
Claire Bangser is a New Orleans-based photographer and filmmaker with a passion for storytelling. She is the creator of NOLAbeings and has produced work for local, national, an international organizations and media since 2009. Highlights include a three-month bike tour storytelling project on the west coast, documentation for a four-month National Geographic Young Explorer’s grant in Turkey, and New Orleans-based digital storytelling projects like Cry You One and BOUDIN: The New Orleans Music Project. Find more of her work at www.clairebangser.com.